Italian Wedding Soup with Homemade Meatballs

Are you planning to make a special Valentine’s dinner, but you aren’t sure what you want to make? Consider making a pot of Italian Wedding Soup! I was introduced to Italian Wedding Soup years ago when I worked at  a Teacher Resource Center in Howard County. For lunch, I would walk across the street to Produce Galore (which has since gone out of business – so sad), and I would choose from their amazing soup selections. Every once in awhile they would have the Italian Wedding – and I made sure to get bowls (with extra meatballs) for myself, my boss, and coworker. We LOVED Italian Wedding Soup day! It had been quite a long time since I had the soup until I stumbled across a recipe on a food blog I followed. I made it for the first time when I hosted a party, and it was a huge hit.

Italian Wedding Soup would be perfect for Valentine’s Day. I read about the origins of the soup to learn more. You are right, the soup comes from Italy, and in Italy it is called “Ministra Maritata.” The word maritata translates to “marry” or “wed” in Italian. Apparently many food historians (food historian – I didn’t know there was such a thing) say that maritata relates to the ingredients that are mixed together in the soup, rather than it referring to the soup being served at weddings. I think the ingredients make the recipe a winner. They all come together to create flavors that comfort you and make you feel good. Just like in a marriage, many things have to come together for it to be good. I hope you will find this recipe as delicious and comforting as we do in my home. Enjoy!

Recipe for Italian Wedding Soup with Homemade Meatballs

INGREDIENTS

  • For the meatballs
  • 3/4 lb of ground chicken (I had the meat counter grind up chicken breasts)
  • 2/3 lb of sweet italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2/3 cup of fresh bread crumbs (Italian bread works well)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. of chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. of 1% or 2% milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
  • For the soup
  • 2 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup of onion, chopped small
  • 1 1/2 cups of thinly sliced carrots (about 1/4-inch or so)
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine or white cooking wine
  • 1 1/4 cups of Ditalini pasta
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup of minced fresh dill
  • 4 – 6 ounces of baby spinach leaves
  • Grated parmesan cheese, for topping

DIRECTIONS

For the meatballs (meatballs can be made the day before)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, cheese, milk, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Use a fork to gently mix together until fully combined. Use your hands or a cookie dough scoop (that is what I did) to form into meatballs that are about 1 1/4-inches. Place the meatballs onto the baking sheets. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until fully cooked and lightly browned. Set aside. *If made the day before, allow them to cool and then transfer to an airtight container and put in fridge. Before adding them to the soup, zap them in the microwave for about 45 seconds.

For the soup
Put the olive oil in a large pot and set over medium heat. Once heated, add the onions and carrots. Saute until the vegetables are softened, about 4 – 5 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the chicken broth and the white wine. Bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, add in the pasta and cook until al dente (about 7 – 10 minutes, but total time depends on the pasta – check package directions to determine how long to cook). Add in the dill. Add the meatballs to the soup and cook for 1 – 2 minutes. If desired, sprinkle in a little bit of salt and pepper. Stir in the baby spinach leaves and cook for 1 minute. Garnish each bowl of soup with Parmesan cheese and serve soup with crusty bread, if desired.

The soup tastes good leftover, but the spinach can get a little soggy. I sometimes add fresh spinach leaves when I reheat leftover soup.

Recipe Adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally from Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics

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